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Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Center & North Galápagos Cruise

5 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Aida Maria

Length

5 Days

Ship category

Budget

Ship type

Small Yacht

Capacity

16 Passengers

Center & North Galápagos Cruise

5 Reviews

Trip highlights

Snorkel with Hammerheads at Darwin Bay

Scientific insights at C. Darwin Research Station

A bird lover's paradise: Hiking on Genovesa

Giant Tortoises in the wild on Santa Cruz

The Galapatours experience

Built in Galápagos

Great itineraries

English-speaking guide for all activities

Lectures in the evening

Get to know the highlights of Galápagos with this Naturalist cruise on board the beautiful Aida Maria! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: On Genovesa, breathtaking dinghy rides, stunning views and close encounters with the most iconic birds of the Archipelago await you. Blue-footed Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and many more species can be seen here. During your time on Santa Cruz, you will have the chance to observe the famous Galápagos Giant Tortoises in the wild and learn more about the preservation and scientific study of these amazing animals. On Santiago, an island formerly inhabited by pirates, you will be able to enjoy hikes and dinghy rides.

Your ship: Aida Maria

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise
Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise
Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

What better way to experience the Galápagos Islands than on board a yacht that was designed and built right here in the islands from local materials and using local craftsmen? The Aida Maria was launched in 1997, and her owner's family have been a part of Galápagos life since the 1930s. A Galápagos cruise aboard Aida Maria gives you a unique perspective on these unique islands. We think Aida Maria gets the balance just right between affordable Galápagos cruising and having an enjoyable, comfortable and stylish experience. When you step on board, it's remarkable to think that the entire ship wa … Read more about Aida Maria

Cabins

Double Twin
Double Twin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

Your itinerary below may vary, depending on the weather, wildlife breeding, and local conditions.

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

5.0

(1)

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

Enjoy a 3-day cruise extension from Puerto Ayora, including a full-day land excursion to an exquisite uninhabited island in the Galápagos. Observe the remarkable biodiversity up close and snorkel in the tropical waters in the afternoon.

From

USD 680

Galapagos Green Turtle

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Ayora on a full-day diving trip to one of the most spectacular sites in the Galápagos Islands. Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 490

Baltra Arrival at Baltra airport+transfer to ship
Baltra: Arrival at Baltra airportBaltra: Arrival at Baltra airport + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104 + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

Welcome to Galápagos! Once your flight has landed and you went through the immigration process, you'll be met in the Arrivals lounge by our English-speaking guide who will take you to your transfer vehicle for the short journey to your waiting ship.

Baltra Island, where your arrival airport is, was used as an important Air Force base in the Second World War. This is the primary airport for the Galápagos Islands and you'll be rubbing shoulders with fellow tourists, international naturalists and conservationists, researchers and academics, and Galápagos residents alike. The airport has been built as a "green" airport, and as well as using recycled materials in its construction, it's special design keeps the buildings relatively cool without the need for any air conditioning.

Once on board your ship, you will be introduced to the crew and given a welcome briefing as well as an important safety drill. After this you'll be shown to your cabin. While you're served a well-deserved and delicious lunch, the captain will cast off and your adventure truly starts.

Note: If you plan to spend a few days prior to the cruise in Puerto Ayora and want to do the cruise later this is no problem at all. The transfer from Puerto Ayora to Baltra is very easy.

Santa Cruz Bachas Beach
Bachas Beach

The name "Bachas Beach" (or "Las Bachas" in Spanish) actually comes from a mispronunciation! After the second world war, American forces stationed on Santa Cruz abandoned some of their barges there - "bachas" was the nearest some of the locals could get to pronouncing the English word, and the name has stuck. You can still see the remains of one of the floating docks the soldiers set up on one of the two beaches that make up Las Bachas Beach.

This beach is covered in white coral sand, and it's a major nesting site for Galápagos green turtles. There's also a lagoon just behind the sand which often hosts flamingos, ducks and migratory birds. You can also often find marine iguanas feeding on the rocky outcrops near the tide line.

The main beach is perfect for swimming, being very sheltered from the ocean swells, and is a very pleasant spot to cool off and to indulge in some snorkeling.

Genovesa Darwin Bay
Darwin Bay

Darwin Bay is a must-visit site for birdwatchers. Starting with a landing on a beautiful white coral beach you are able to follow an easy half-mile trail that will take you through bird-filled mangroves. Species that can be seen on this part of the trail include Nazca Boobies, Galápagos red-footed Boobies, and Swallow-Tailed gulls.

As the path continues you will find tidal pools - favourite spots for Galápagos Sea Lions to lazily swim and play. At the path's end you will come to the top of a cliff which will reward you with a spectacular view.

Genovesa Prince Philip's Steps
Prince Philip's Steps

Named after Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who visited the Galápagos Islands twice, the Prince Philip's Steps pier uses natural rock formations to allow you to land and admire the variety of seabirds that inhabit Genovesa. With careful steps on the wet and slippery lower rocks, you begin your hike near a small colony of Galápagos sea bears before reaching the beautiful vantage point further up with views of the lava plains.

The birdlife will surround you from all sides and you will enjoy the sight and sounds of many wonderful species, including blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies, but also small Galápagos owls and Galápagos pigeons.

Bartholomew A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew, Galápagos

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Santiago Sullivan Bay
Sullivan Bay

Sullivan Bay is on the eastern coast of Santiago Island. This visitor site is all about the geology and volcanic origins of the Galápagos, and although there is little wildlife here, the eerie landscape that was formed only 150 years ago has a real beauty all of its own.

On the hiking trail you will walk along lava that bubbled up from the ground, flowed and solidified in the second half of the 18th century. We recommend good sturdy shoes for walking in these lava fields. The landscape here is eerie and apparently barren - some of our Galapatours guests liken it to a "lunar landscape".

As the trail moves inland, the textures and colors change as you encounter much older lava fields. Here you can start to see signs of nature beginning to colonize this "new land". The small green plants that have started to grow in the cracks and crevices are called Mollugo.

Your Galapatours expert guide will be able to explain more about the volcanic processes that formed Santiago and all the Galápagos Islands, as well as how species begin to colonize the bare landscape.

Baltra Daphne Minor
Daphne Minor

Like her big sister Daphne Major, Daphne Minor is a barren, treeless extinct remains of a tuff cone. There are no visitor sites on Daphne Minor, but a panga ride along her shores will give the opportunity for some snorkeling.

Here is where Daphne Minor shows her true colors - literally. An unusually large amount of smaller underwater organisms live on the rocky undersea walls of the island, creating a real multi-colored environment amongst the black and grey rocks.

Other creatures often seen here include seahorses, Galápagos sharks, rays and green turtles.

Santa Cruz Black Turtle Cove
Black Turtle Cove

The only way into Black Turtle cove is by panga (motorised dinghy). This "secret" corner of the Galápagos feels like your own personal hideout, and once the panga motor is shut off you're surrounded only with the gentle sounds of nature as you drift through the mangroves.

Rich with wildlife, you'll often see Galápagos green turtles feeding, or even mating, in the calm water, as well as different shark species and Galápagos rays.

This is a very different visitor site, showing another side to the Galápagos away from the noise of surf on the beaches and barking sea lions.

Santa Cruz Dragon Hill
Dragon Hill

Dragon Hill is the site of a success story in the history of Galápagos conservation. In 1975 almost the entire population of land iguanas in this part of northeast Santa Cruz was wiped out by packs of feral dogs. The Charles Darwin Research Center swung into action with an emergency breeding and rearing program for land iguanas. The program was extremely successful, and the last captive-bred land iguana was released from the breeding center onto Dragon Hill in 1991. Iguanas continue to be released here every 3 or 4 years from other breeding centers in the Galápagos to ensure the continued success of the Dragon Hill Iguanas.

As well as being the landing site to visit the Hill, the rocky shoreline here is a great snorkeling site where you can swim with green turtles, sharks and rays. A trail leads inland past two saltwater lagoons which often play host to flamingos. As you continue to circle Dragon Hill on the trail you'll be able to see land iguanas in the wild, and you can find their burrows all along the path.

As well as the land iguanas, the area around Dragon Hill is full of other species including Darwin's Finches, Galápagos Mockingbirds, and the native Opuntia cactus. This is one of the longer walking trails, and your Galapatours guide will recommend you use good footwear, especially as the trail can be uneven in places and gets slippery and muddy after wet weather.

Santa Cruz Charles Darwin Research Station

The world famous Charles Darwin Research Center is just a 10 minute walk from downtown Puerto Ayora, and is the home of the non-profit Charles Darwin Foundation.

Inside, you'll find exhibits about the geography, geology and climate of the Galápagos, and the evolution of her unique species. There is also lots of information on the Foundation's current conservation and education programs.

As well as conducting it's own key research, the Charles Darwin Center also hosts international scientists, and supports the work of government agencies like the Galápagos National Park.

Next door is the site of the Galápagos' first giant tortoise breeding center, where pioneering work has been done since 1965 for the preservation of these species. Here you can see newly hatched babies, up to juveniles and full-grown adults ready to be released back into the wild.

Baltra Transfer to Baltra airport
Transfer from ship to Baltra airport (organized)

Your Galápagos adventure ends with the arrival of your ship back at Baltra Island. After what many guests describe as an emotional goodbye to your ship and its crew, you'll board the transfer vehicle that will take you on the short journey to the airport in plenty of time for your flight back to the mainland.

Baltra airport serves both Guayaquil or Quito, and we can arrange flights that fit best with your onward plans - particularly if you are continuing a South America tour. Speak to one of our travel experts as we are often able to beat even internet pricing on flights to and from Galápagos.

Note: If you plan to spend a few days in Galápagos after your cruise this is no problem at all. Just let us know and we will arrange for the logistics. The transfer from Baltra to Puerto Ayora, for example, is very easy.

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

5.0

(1)

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

Enjoy a 3-day cruise extension from Puerto Ayora, including a full-day land excursion to an exquisite uninhabited island in the Galápagos. Observe the remarkable biodiversity up close and snorkel in the tropical waters in the afternoon.

From

USD 680

Galapagos Green Turtle

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Ayora on a full-day diving trip to one of the most spectacular sites in the Galápagos Islands. Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 490

Dates & Prices

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Info

Availability

Price

23

Jun

2024

27

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2024

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USD 1,375

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3 Spots

Book now

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USD 1,750

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USD 2,125

27

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2024

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From

USD 2,125

Preferred date unavailable? Contact us

Info

Single Cabin Supplement

When booking online, you can choose the option to "Upgrade to single occupancy". This will guarantee you the whole cabin to yourself, for an additional fee. If you don't select this option, then another traveler of the same sex might be placed into the same cabin with you.

What's included

All meals onboard (International and Ecuadorian Cuisine). Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice - please ask us about your needs.

Snorkeling sessions - whenever possible and allowed by the National Park.

Extensive Zodiac Rides to explore the shorelines and mangrove forests from close up.

All transport to and from the ship: Pick-up by your guide directly from the airport (if you arrive at the first day) and drop-off by your guide directly to the airport (if you leave on the last day).

English-speaking naturalist guides with you at all times during the excursions.

Briefings in the evening, during which your guide will explain what you can expect from your next day.

Lectures in the evenings about a variety of topics, including Geology, Marine Biology, Natural History, Human History, and more.

Entry costs to museums, research stations, breeding stations, etc.

Your booking contributes to our Conservation Project.

What's not included

Galápagos National Park Fee, payable in cash upon arrival at the airport in Galápagos (please see our FAQ)

INGALA Luggage Check Fee at the airport on the mainland: 20USD (please see our FAQ)

Alcoholic beverages onboard (please see our FAQ)

Bottled soft drinks onboard (Coke, Sprite etc.)

Tips & Gratuities for your Guide and Crew (please see our FAQ)

Travel Health Insurance

Reviews

client

Yoeri G

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Budget

March 2024

Unglaubliche Reise! Galapagos ist wirklich etwas anderes und ich liebte jedes bisschen davon. Der Reiseplan stimmte nicht immer mit unseren Erfahrungen überein und eine Insel war wegen einer Vogelgrippe geschlossen, worüber wir nicht informiert wurden. Auch die Kommunikation an Bord könnte manchmal besser sein. Aber im Großen und Ganzen würde ich sowohl Galapatours als auch das Schiff Aida Maria und ihre fantastische Crew auf jeden Fall empfehlen.

client

Yoeri G

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Budget

March 2024

Amazing trip! Galapagos is really something else and I loved every bit of it. Itinerary dod not always match our experience and an island was closed due to aviant flue which we were not informed about. Communication on board could also improve sometimes. But overall I would definitely recommend both Galapatours and the Aida Maria boat and their amazing crew.

client

Yoeri G

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Budget

March 2024

¡Un viaje increíble! Las Galápagos son realmente increíbles y me encantaron. El itinerario no siempre coincidía con nuestra experiencia y una isla estaba cerrada debido a una gripe aviar de la que no se nos informó. La comunicación a bordo también podría mejorar a veces. Pero en general, sin duda recomendaría tanto Galapatours como el barco Aida Maria y su increíble tripulación.

FAQs

Under Ecuadorian law, if you are only temporarily visiting the Galápagos then you are exempted from the requirement to pay any customs charges on items that you are bringing in to the country. This includes new or used portable electronics such as cameras, laptops, music players, etc.

You MUST NOT bring any agricultural or plant materials or any unprocessed food products to the islands. To avoid problems at customs and bag check we suggest only traveling to Galápagos with pre-wrapped snack products such as chocolate bars, etc. Food is plentiful and freshly cooked on your Galapatours cruise, with a wide range of choice on offer to suit all tastes - you really don't need to bring anything with you!

As the Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, and all flights to the Galapagos depart from mainland Ecuador, you will need to enter Ecuador first.

Entering Ecuador: Every traveler is responsible for checking the individual visa requirements for their nationality. We recommend using https://www.passportindex.org/ to find out if you need a visa for Ecuador. At the time of writing, U.S. citizens do not need to apply for a visa beforehand. Similarly, visitors from the UK, Germany, and most other European countries do not require a visa for the Galapagos Islands. Upon entering the country, you will be given a visa stamp that permits you to stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days. This also applies to many other countries, but please verify the current visa regulations yourself before booking any tickets. In any case, your passport must be valid for at least six more months from the date of entry into Ecuador. You will also need to show proof of onward or return travel out of Ecuador to customs and immigration officials upon arrival; this can be a return or onward airline ticket. If you do not meet these requirements, you may not be allowed to enter the country.

Entering Galapagos: To enter Galápagos, the first official requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport - this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador.

This is a multi-layered question, that we have tried to answer in various articles. Please click on the corresponding links to learn more about the different topics. To recap:

  • Passport & Visa: Tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands must have a valid passport and, in most cases, can obtain a visa upon arrival in Ecuador. Click here to read more.
  • Luggage Check: When leaving Ecuador's main land, tourists' luggage will be checked for restricted items by the Tourist Control and Certification (TCC) to ensure the preservation of the islands' unique environment and wildlife. This check costs 20USD and is done at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil, before checking in for your flight to Galapagos.
  • Entrance Fee: A Galapagos National Park entrance fee must be paid upon arriving in Galapagos.
  • Travel Insurance: A travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation and medical expenses. is highly recommended, and even obligatory on board of some ships.
  • Vaccinations: At the following link you can find out more about vaccinations for a Galápagos trip.

The Galápagos National Park Entrance fee is levied on all visitors to the islands. For foreign visitors, the entry fee is currently 100 USD per person (50 USD for children under 12 years old), but will be increased to 200 USD per person (100 USD for children) from 1 August 2024 onwards. If you are a citizen of a country in South America you might pay less, check here for more information.

Important: This fee must be paid, in cash, at the airport of arrival. If you do not pay, you will not be allowed to leave the terminal - so please make sure you have the means to pay the Galápagos entrance fee! Therefore, the payment of this entrance fee is indispensable to take part in a Galapagos cruise.

The entrance fees collected will be allocated to various local entities to support sustainability and community development in the Galápagos Islands. The proceeds are split between several important institutions as follows:

  • 40% to the Galápagos National Park
  • 20% to Galápagos Municipalities
  • 10% to the National Institute
  • 10% to Galápagos Province Local Government
  • 5% to the National Navy
  • 5% to the Ministry of Environment
  • 5% to Quarantine and Pest Control
  • 5% to the Galápagos Marine Reserve

For more information about the entrance fee structure and the distribution of funds, please visit the official website of the Galápagos National Park Administration.

Entrance Fee Galapagos National Park

To protect the vulnerable and unique Galapagos habitats and wildlife, no non-native plant or animal species must be allowed to arrive on the archipelago. SICGAL is the government department responsible for ensuring the islands are protected in this way.

After you have received your TCT/TCC card at the airport in Ecuador, you should proceed to the SICGAL booth. There you will be asked to fill out a form and may have your luggage examined.

To make sure you don't have any trouble here, please do not attempt to travel with any foods other than small quantities of pre-wrapped snack items like chocolate bars or similar, and certainly don't have any plants or plant materials in your bags. Once checked, you will receive an approval label to attach to your bags, and you can then make your way to your airline check in.

Arrival at Quito Airport: SICGAL Luggage Check and TCC Card for your flight to Galápagos
SIGAL Luggage Check at Quito Airport

Galapagos boasts two airports on Baltra and San Cristóbal Islands, offering daily flights from Quito and Guayaquil. Departing in the early morning, the journey from Quito to Galapagos takes approximately 2.5 hours, often including a brief stopover in Guayaquil. The direct flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos clocks in at around 1.5 hours. Three airlines currently serve Galapagos - Avianca, TAME and LATAM.

To mitigate any potential issues arising from flight delays or cancellations on your international leg, it is advisable to arrive in Quito or Guayaquil the night before your Galapagos departure. Ask us for advice on Ecuador hotels when you book your cruise with us.

Galapagos Flights
Center & North Galápagos Cruise

4.8

(5)

Budget

From

USD 1,375